Today: Peter Marshall, communications director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Marshall also is programs and events manager at Midwest Mountaineering outdoors store in Minneapolis, coordinating the presentations at the store’s popular Adventure Expo in spring and fall. The next expo is Nov. 16-18.
Dork alert: Earlier this year I took a dive into Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” wading through several commentaries and translations. This led to my current stroll through the poetry of Dante’s guide Virgil, and I’m now finishing up “The Aeneid.”
As fun as the world of medieval Catholicism is, it doesn’t play a big part in my professional life. Here, I’m deep in the weeds with Kevin Proescholdt’s book “Troubled Waters” on the 1978 passage of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act. This year is the 40th anniversary of the act, and exploring the political fights and controversy that gave the BWCA greater protection, has made me truly appreciate those earlier generations of wilderness champions.
I eagerly await the fifth and final volume of Robert Caro’s magisterial biography of Lyndon Johnson.
I’ve been closely following what’s happening to our public lands. From Cliven Bundy’s stunt to the growing, though little-discussed, legislative attempts to gut the 1964 Wilderness Act, the situation is dire. We’ve seen the current administration chisel at some of the best safeguards we had to protect the boundary waters from the dangers of copper-sulfide mining. And throughout the country, the notion that land can be owned by everyone and protected for the public good is under attack. There’s a lot to be concerned about, but at the same time we just saw Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put new protections in place on the lands outside of Yellowstone. There is hope.
As relatively new homeowners there is little time, but I recently watched, for the like the 378th time, “Alone in the Wilderness,” about Dick Proenneke building a cabin in the Alaskan mountains. It’s a magical movie and watching it gets all sorts of ideas in my head. Once all the summer and fall projects calm down, “Sharp Objects” and “The Deuce” are must-watch. We have a 21-month-old son, and my wife and I sometimes argue about how old he needs to be to start watching “Game of Thrones.”
I love podcasts. Along with the usual batch of NPR-produced shows, my favorites include “Entitled Opinions,” “Hardcore History” (horrible name/ wonderful show) “Book Fight,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “More Perfect,” and “Literature and History,” and “In Our Time.” In my time-crunched world, there’s no easier way to entertain and educate myself.
I do my best to keep up with a few hobbies. Literature has always been important to me, and I wake up at an ungodly time to squeeze in an hour or two of reading and writing before our son wakes up.
Despite not owning any land and having only rudimentary skills with a saw and ax, I’ve had a longstanding fantasy about building my own cabin. This May, I plan to take a cabin-building class at North House up in Grand Marais. I figure this is as close as I can get to living out my Dick Proenneke dream.